Published on June 13th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair0
The First Audi 80 Debuted 50 Years Ago. This Model Was Later Renamed ‘A4’
The Audi A4’s grandfather, the Audi 80, turns 50 years old this year.
The Audi brand in Malaysia has gone from stagnant to near death despite many loyal fans still awaiting the brand’s next revival phase. Many of those fans will be aware that the A4 has long been the company’s compact executive entry – taking the fight to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Some fans may even remember that the ‘A4‘ was actually called the Audi 80 from 1972 until 1996. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Audi 80.
The first Audi 80 was intended to be a “modern, but not trendy” reliable family car. It was one of the first vehicles to be produced by the Audi brand under their new parent company, Volkswagen AG. The Audi 80 went on be the template for all modern water-cooled front-wheel drive Volkswagen vehicles from the 1970s onward.
The Audi 80 was considered extremely lightweight at just 835kg for the base 2-door model. With a wheelbase of 2.47m and an overall length of just 4.18m, this was an overall compact vehicle. Still, Audi engineers worked hard to introduce innovations within this constrained package. Suspension engineers introduced a negative steering roll radius for the first time in a mass-produced European vehicle, which improved stability during braking.
Audi also laid out the hydraulic braking system diagonally. The rear suspension was a torsion crank axle with spring dampers while the front suspension featured MacPherson-style struts and wishbones.
The engine of the Audi 80 was longitudinally mounted with a 4-speed auto mounted to its rear driving the front wheels in now-typical Audi fashion. Engine options ranged from 1.3 to 1.6 litres. The Audi 80’s EA827 petrol engine family becomes one of the most widely built VW Group engines, even forming the basis of a diesel engine family.
The Audi 80 quickly becomes a huge sales success due to its lightweight, sporty handling and excellent fuel consumption during the 1973 oil crisis. More than a million Audi 80 B1 models are made between 1972 and 1978. It is sold in the USA as the ‘Fox’.
Audi also commissions a coupé concept car with styling from Giorgio Giugiaro called the Asso di Picche. It is built by coachbuilder Karmann. It eventually leads to the production Audi 80 GT and Audi 80 GTE with power outputs in excess of 110PS.